Speech Prosody 2002

Aix-en-Provence, France
April 11-13, 2002

Pitch, Eyebrows and the Perception of Focus

Emiel Krahmer (1), Zsófia Ruttkay (2), Marc Swerts (3,4), Wieger Wesselink (4)

(1) Computational Linguistics, Tilburg University, The Netherlands
(2) CWI, Centre for Mathematics and Computer Science, The Netherlands
(3) CNTS, Center for Dutch Language and Speech, University of Antwerp, Belgium
(4) IPO, Center for User-System Interaction, Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands

We report on an experiment with a Talking Head, aimed at finding out the relative contributions of pitch accents and rapid eyebrow movements for the perception of focus. For this purpose, we use a "dialogue reconstruction" experiment: subjects have to perform a perceptual task in which they have to determine on the basis of the distributions of pitch accent and eyebrow movements what the focus is of the current utterance. Our results reveal that both pitch accents and eyebrow movements can have a significant effect on the perception of focus, albeit that the effect of pitch is much larger than that of eyebrows.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Krahmer, Emiel / Ruttkay, Zsófia / Swerts, Marc / Wesselink, Wieger (2002): "Pitch, eyebrows and the perception of focus", In SP-2002, 443-446.